Why is college so expensive? Where is the tuition money actually going? College students and their parents are asking these questions all across the United States. People are becoming outraged at the rising price of an education, which seems to have become a necessity in order to succeed.
The price of college has been on the rise. It has risen by 80 percent in the last decade; in 2003, only two colleges charged $40,000 a year, including room and board. By 2009, the number rose to 224 colleges charging around $40,000 and fifty-eight charging more than $50,000 a year. The rise of the price of college is leaving Americans owing a total of $1.2 trillion to colleges. Students are feeling the pressure of the bills adding up, but they don’t feel that there is another option. The world is telling them that the bachelor’s degree is the new high school diploma and that it is the only way to get a good job.
Since it is inevitable that college students will have to pay this outrageous price, the least they can expect is be informed about the things for which they are paying via their tuition. Many students are feeling like they are being completely robbed, as indicated by the tweet pictured below. But what we don’t know is what exactly the tuition is going towards. Yes, colleges tell you some of what it goes towards, but there is a section classified as other. So my question is, where is the money going? How much of it is actually going towards academics?
According to the book Why Public Higher Education Should be Free?, the author Robert Samuels calculates that only about 52% of tuition money goes to academic spending. Academic spending includes professor salaries, libraries, students resources, and classroom materials. A big portion of the money is going towards student facilities, which include dining halls, recreational facilities, and residential halls. Colleges are trying to make it to where students are living in luxury.
All of this is great, but it is taking away from the point of college, which is education. The quality of education is beginning to decrease. With an increase of teacher assistants and graduate students teaching, along with huge lecture halls, students aren’t getting the help they need. Not much of the money is going into instruction; professors only make about $60,000 a year, while administration and deans make about $100,000 a year. Students also have to buy their own textbooks, which is not a cheap expense.
The focus needs to come back to education and be less focused on whether the students will be living large. Colleges should be spending money on all the stuff that make it nice to live on campus, but they should not be designating such a large amount of focus upon these aspects. Money from tuition should not be going towards housing, considering students also pay an equivalent price for room and board. Colleges should instead spend more money on making textbooks more accessible at lower costs and on making class sizes smaller. There is no reason for a professor not to be the one teaching the class. Students learn better in small classes with an interactive teacher anyway. The price will most likely continue to increase, but that doesn’t mean that colleges cannot redirect their spending habits on what is more important.
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